Kids and Commercialism

Tonight I spoke at our local chapter of Holistic Moms Network about "Parenting in a Commerical Culture". We had a great turnout and a lively discussion about the challenges facing parents in a culture where advertisers are actively fighting for your child's mind. Much of the conversation centered around television viewing and the merchandising of cartoon characters. It was clear that everyone felt the pressure to conform to mainstream culture, but that they were taking steps to push against it. I am very fortunate to have such mindful and intelligent mamas to bounce ideas off of and turn to for support. Here are some action tips on this topic from the New American Dream*:

  • Get rid of the TV.
  • Expose kids to other media - surrealist films, conceptual art exhibits (carefully selected), gatherings of interesting adult friends with non-mainstream stories to tell.
  • Remove the logos from clothes, theirs and yours. Talk with kids about why you're doing this. Suggest to kids to design their own, personal logos.
  • See a wonderful passage on commercialism and consumerism by Brian Swimme
  • Parents who resist consumerism for themselves are the ones who teach their children to resist it.
  • Teach children to be doers and creators rather than shoppers and buyers.
  • Supply them with sidewalk chalk, old cardboard boxes and other makings of creative play.
  • Grow your own food. Involve the kids. Teach your child of the connections within the natural world. Experience their beauty together. Talk about where things come from, who made them, what they are made of.
  • Teach by example and conviction a set of values that allow kids to make their own choices.
  • Teach kids empathy for others. Instead of buying toys, suggest they spend the money bringing some groceries to the local food bank.

*I used a handout from New American Dream that was full of great resources, websites, etc. They are a really neat grassroots organiziation on a mission. Check them out!